How to Stitch a Chicken by Mark Van Dusen explores what can happen when humans sometimes forget who is really in charge. Courtesy Photo
If you know anything about the publishing industry in Canada, you know you aren’t going to get rich by writing a book. It must be a labour of love, and you must enjoy what you’re doing. That is exactly what Mark Van Dusen is getting and giving through his book How to Stitch a Chicken.
“I spent a good part of the day peddling it at the Russell Flea Market,” says Van Dusen, “and it’s doing quite well, I’m happy to say. It’s in the hardware store, it’s in Foodland, I’m going to two or three other flea markets before Christmas because it’s a good time to be doing this.
“The best part of it is I’m meeting a lot of old friends that I haven’t seen or talked to in quite a while, and that’s really one of the rewards of doing this face to face. I’m having a good time doing it.”
The Van Dusen name is as close as you can get to journalism royalty in Eastern Ontario. There probably isn’t one segment of the media in the Ottawa or Seaway Valley that didn’t have at least one Van Dusen on staff at some point. “That’s what happens when you’ve been around long enough,” says Van Dusen. “I’m in my early 70s now and I started as a copy boy on Parliament Hill in the 70s and then earned my spurs in Cornwall at the Standard-Freeholder and then moved up to the Citizen for several years and then on into television with CJOH and CBC but raising a family and getting that farm we bought some years back into shape has taken up most of my time.
“I always had it in the back of my head to write this book…to write a book. When we took on this farm, it sort of became the motivation to get on with the job because so many absurd, ridiculous things were happening. The process of trying to turn a rundown farm into something more presentable was leading into all kinds of misadventures and crazy happenings. As time settled and I had more time at home, I thought now is the time. I started a few years back and here we are.”
How to Stitch a Chicken relates some of the experiences the Van Dusen family and their assorted livestock and resident wildlife experienced while renovating their heritage farm north of Russell, Ontario. If you have ever thought “it seemed like a good idea at the time,” and lived to laugh about it, this book is probably for you. About now, a good laugh is something most would welcome.
“I do look at this book as kind of a Covid ointment or liniment, if you want to put it that way, to give people a laugh after Covid or as Covid continues to wain to some extent. To sort of break them out of that Covid experience and give them a bit of a laugh.”
Really though, it is the animals. Hilarious interaction with the animals.
“I never hang around with them without keeping my eye open as to what they are doing to see if I can learn anything from them and I inevitably do,” says Van Dusen. “It usually makes for comic instances where I wonder if this happens to other people. I sometimes wonder if I don’t attract the nonsensical incidents, I got caught up in to such an extent that I thought I’m going to have to write this because people aren’t going to believe it.
How to Stitch a Chicken is published by Burnstown Publishing and it can
be ordered online from their website (burnstownpublishing.com) or directly from Mark Van Dusen by emailing him at email@example.com.
Terry Tinkess is a professional photographer, educator and journalist. He has been making a living with a camera and keyboard since 1999 and has been featured in such publications as The Ottawa Citizen, Cornwall Standard Freeholder, The Globe and Mail, The Miami Herald, Ottawa Construction News, The Ontario Construction Report, Ontario Home Builder Magazine, Reed Construction Data, Canadian Potato Business and most recently, The Record and Eastern Ontario AgriNews. Terry lives in Ingleside, Ontario with his wife Brenda, Mia the anxious Pittie and cats Wally and Chubbers.